Dodgers’ Julio Urias Struggles in Debut

In one of the more anticipated debuts of this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers called up left-handed pitcher Julio Urias to make his major league debut. Urias, just 19 years old, has been with the club since 2013, and is expected to make a difference once he adapts to the new level of play.  Although few believe Clayton Kershaw when he says that Urias is better at nineteen than he was, there is no doubt that Urias has the potential to be something special.

JulioUrias1280_54j1cz55_v0fn84yrThrough all of his time in the minors, Urias has a 2.63 ERA with 308 strikeouts, and only 201 hits allowed. It was apparent that the young southpaw was ready for the call up as he as torched the AAA level this season. Posting just a 1.10 ERA, Urias has kept hitters off base with 44 K’s compared to only 24 hits.

Despite reports suggesting he was extremely relaxed to begin the game, the young pitcher’s nerves were very apparent in the first inning. With a very cautious approach to batters, Urias was inconsistent and struggled to find a rhythm. When he did try to attack the hitters, Urias was overthrowing his fastballs, highlighted by a 120 foot fastball that flew to the backstop. Through a long 36 pitch inning, Urias allowed three earned runs while recording two strikeouts. The inning went as such:

Player Result Note
Curtis Granderson Kc 94 MPH Fastball (1st Career K)
Asdrubal Cabrera Double One Hop to Left Field Wall
David Wright K 95 MPH Fastball
Yoenis Cespedes BB Walked on five pitches
Neil Walker 2B (RBI) Loop
Juan Lagares 1B (2 RBI) Curveball sent down the line
Kevin Plawecki 1B Soft line to right field
Eric Campbell F7 Fly ball to Howie Kendrick

Urias struggled as he fell behind in the count early, as he threw six first pitch balls to batters. Fighting from behind left Urias unable to dictate the count, causing a struggle with his confidence. He found early success with strikeouts against Granderson and Wright, but that success was temporary.  With a walk to Yoenis Cespedes, Urias gave the first free pass of the night, which became an unfortunate trend in the next two innings.

The young pitcher settled in the second inning as he cut his count from 36 pitches in the first inning to just 16 pitches in the second. Urias improved with three first pitch strikes to four batters, and it was apparent that he was comfortable. With a more relaxed attitude, the young phenom made it out of the inning without any real damage against the 9-3 hitters:

Player Result Note
Jacob deGrom K 92 MPH Fastball
Curtis Granderson BB Walks on five pitches
Asdrubal Cabrera F9 Fly ball to Yasiel Puig
David Wright F8 Fly ball to Joc Pederson

The Dodgers were down early because of the rough first inning, and Urias was called upon to advance runners with his first career at-bat in the third inning. He dropped a bunt to the right side of the infield and reached safely on a Jacob deGrom error. With the bases loaded, the team was able to bring in just one run on a sacrifice fly before a double play. Taking the field for his third inning of work, the high early pitch count clearly affected Urias, as he failed to make it out of the inning. Struggling with location, the young southpaw threw only one first pitch strike to five batters. Despite two outs to start the inning, Urias was unable to capitalize on the quick start:

Player Result Note
Yoenis Cespedes F8 Fly ball to Joc Pederson
Neil Walker 1-3 Grounder to Julio Urias
Juan Lagares 1B Groundball through left side
Kevin Plawecki BB Walks on six pitches
Eric Campbell BB Walks on seven pitches

After back-to-back walks that pushed Urias to 82 total pitches, he was pulled from the game with bases loaded. Chris Hatcher came into the difficult situation, but was able to strikeout Jacob deGrom to avoid any additional damage. There were flashes of promise, but Julio Urias certainly hoped for a better start to his Major League career.


The biggest concern for Urias is that he struggled with his first pitch location. Falling behind eleven of the seventeen batters he faced, he was unable to attack batters the way he would have liked. Urias looked extremely sharp when getting ahead, but there was clearly a drop off in production when battling from behind, as he reached six 3-0 counts. Failing to get ahead, Urias was unable to set up his fastball, rendering his change-up useless the few times it was thrown. The future looks bright for the young star, but there is no doubt that the expectations may have been a bit too high for Urias’ first start in the Big Apple.

Featured Image from and the SNY Network, Baseball America

Minor League Statistics from Baseball-Reference (Julio Urias Player Profile)

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